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Exhibition Design | Graphic Design

Basquiat - The Artist and his New York Scene

January 2019

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Basquiat – The Artist and his New York Scene is the European premiere of the early work and life of visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his contemporaries. The studio took care of both the exhibition design and the graphic design of the publication. They have been structured in several chapters such as: East 12th Street, Times Square Show and The Artist and his Studio. To bridge between the space and publication a colour palette has been developed that is applicable for both of them. The exhibition took place from February 2, 2019 to June 2, 2019 at Schunck in Heerlen.

The Book: The challenge was to design a book about Basquiat without actually being able to show any of his paintings or any other artworks, due to legal issues. The focus was set on all the other material that is linked to Basquiat, such as portraits, interventions with the environment and other documents. For the different content several types of paper have been chosen, to underline these aspects.
The Exhibition: To create a visual reference to the apartment of East 12th Street, the start of the exhibition is a space surrounded by walls including some windows that give a peak to the outside. This is where the other chapters can be seen, all arranged by the hues of the developed palette. These are applied as even and roughly painted surfaces. The actual art pieces are accompanied with billboard that show documentary photography of the original locations and people. 

Project team Raw Color:
Christoph Brach, Daniera ter Haar, Tijs Van Nieuwenhuysen, Noortje de Keijzer, Carmen Steenbrink

Project team Schunck:
Cynthia Jordens, Fabian de Kloe, Sandra Uijlenbroek, Patricia van den Enden, Jos Dreissen, Janneke Peters, Noelle Kemmerling, Lene ter Haar



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Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979–1980
The first part shows Jean-Michel Basquiat during the year he lived with his friend Alexis Adler in a small apartment in the East Village. This archival material provides rare insight into the artistic life of Basquiat before he was recognised as a prominent painter in the early 1980s. While living in this apartment, Basquiat’s creative impulses moved fluidly from his SAMO© tags on the surrounding streets and neighbourhood into a more sustained practice in his and Adler’s shared home.


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The Times Square Show
In the summer of 1980, the 20-year-old Basquiat showed his work publicly for the first time at TheTimes Square Show, a group exhibition on the initiative of artists’ collaborative COLAB.This saw more than 100 young artists hard at work experimenting and opposing the art establishment in punk-like rebellion. Open 24 hours a day, the show took place in a vacant six-storey massage parlour at Times Square. There was an extensive evening programme with ‘Exotic Events’. Participating artist were Charlie Ahearn, Eva DeCarlo, Jane Dickson, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Becky Howland, Peggy Lynn, Tom Otterness, Christy Rupp, Kenny Scharf and Kiki Smith.


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The Artist in his Studio
In 1981, his paintings were shown for the first time at the New York/New Wave exhibition at PS1, now part of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work immediately caught the attention of prominent gallerists, launching his international career. In spring 1982, Marion Busch, founder of the Rotterdam Art Space gallery (1983-2001), travelled on her own initiative to New York. Her adventurous trip resulted in a meeting with Basquiat in his studio, where she interviewed him and shot black-and-white portraits of him as he held a tape recorder to his ear. 


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